Archive for November, 2008

First Impressions

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2008 by sylus

Okay, sorry this is so late! I not only have had the busiest week I have had in ages, but I also spent the ENTIRE weekend SICK! Not just normal “hey I don’t feel so good” sick, we’re talking DESTROYING MY BODY sick. I lost almost 15 lbs in 3 days, woot-diggity. I’ve been thinking about loosing some weight, maybe this could be my big launch party… no pun intended.

So, I didn’t really get to play Abadon until last night. Howling Fjord is full of win. I’m about 5 bubbles from 71, and loving the quests. I’m taking my time, reading all of the quests, and getting a good feel for how things are here in Northrend. Personally I like the new feel to everything. Items look rougher, more tangible. Armor looks mean; like it could actually take a hit! The bad guys look, well, bad! I love the way everything is so far, I admit I have a very long way to go, and will keep you all posted.

Everyone knows I was pretty anti-death knight at first. Everyone will have one, everyone will do everything they can to get their death knight to 80, blah, blah, blah. I rolled a death knight…go figure. I have to say, it only took a few hours to get through the starting quest-line, and I must say, it is one of the most epic feeling quest chains in the game. I love the interaction with your environment, the npc’s and the Lich King. The final scene, at light hope’s chapel is EPIC. The conversation drives the action, and the lore is AWESOME! Wow, I did that with minimal spoilers for those of you that haven’t done this yet(FIKKLE).  So, my Death Knight is done with the starter quests, and is now standing around in Orgrammar, where he probably will be for some time to come. I have a Hunter, Rogue, and Priest that all have the gleam of 80 in their eyes!

I’ll keep you all up to date on my slow lvling I have going, and maybe, if you all ask nicely, Fikkle will tell you all how he is doing Powering through to 80. If I remember right, he’s 77 as of today on his shammy! Grats Fik-man, Grats!

~Sy

Wrath Release Night Goodness!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13, 2008 by sylus

I would first like to take this opportunity to say that I am truly sorry for not getting this up as fast as I would have liked to, it was a short day, and a much longer day than I had anticipated today!

Hello Community! Last night was awesome! Nimrock, Spiffie, and myself saddled up the ol’ van and headed south, to Pittsburg. We ended up second third and fourth in line at the door, which is always good. We spent the  next forty five minutes until the store opened up having a wonderful conversation with a guy named Joel. Joel plays an alliance mage, but he’s still cool! In fact, by the end of the night it was about a 2:1 ratio of Alliance to Horde. I was pretty thorough about asking everyone that came through the doors(well, right up until the end when I was waiting in line to grab my collectors edition)

So, back to the “data” I collected from everyone. I was trying to keep this pretty simple. First off, because I’m a simple person, secondly, because I wanted to be able to move quickly through the massive crowds…of like 70ish people… Okay, so it wasn’t a MASSIVE event, but it was a blast!  I asked everyone three basic questions: Alliance or Horde?, What is your main(race and class)? , and how old are you? This went over better than expected with some of the female gamers. Frankly, I expected to get hit a few times. Why would I expect to get hit a few times you may be asking? Well, the lady-folk don’t like to tell how old they are, coupled with the fact that these particular lady-folk play world of warcraft…I assumed this to be a highly volatile combination!

So, we had 49 alliance, to 24 horde. We were outnumbered my friends. Meh, I pretended I was entering a wsg or eye battleground…that’s about par for us sometimes! The trend that shocked me the most was by far the average ages of the people playing each faction.  The youngest player I talked too was 17. Granted it was a school night, so most of the alliance was in bed, I assume,lol.  The oldest was 49. The average age of alliance players was 28.5. The average age of Horde players was 23.875. Okay, so this didn’t end up proving my theory that all alliance players are 12 years old and love names like PWNDADDY. I’m just going assume my test group was too small, and all of the test group were picking up for their 12 year olds at home…yeah, that’s it!

I know I’ve poked fun at the alliance in this post, but trust me, it’s all in good fun! I have a few alliance toons, none above 22 granted….but I still have them! I want to say that I have a great respect for the wow community. I had a blast chatting with everyone, and am soooo looking forward to meeting up with a few more of you in random encounters, and future expansion parties! I hope to hear from a few of you guys here on the site, if not, no worries, I know I was just the weird guy asking you for your personal wow information!

I’m throwing a few pictures at you here. Enjoy, and if you see yourself, say hi!

Eat. Sleep. Wrath.

Posted in Random on November 13, 2008 by Kor

We NEED the T-shirt.

The Day is Upon Us!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2008 by sylus

Okay, last call for blog fans to come out and say hi tonight at the Pittsburg Kansas Gamestop from ten PM to midnight! Yes, that’s right, the day you have all been looking forward to is upon us! Tonight, after weeks of the Lich King’s flunkies mucking up our game world, from the infected crates that caught so many of us off guard, to the all out attacks in the major cities….Now it’s time to bring the fight to him! That’s right, tonight, Horde and Alliance, all factions aside, we rally together to monkey-stomp in Northrend!

Now, with that being said, flag up, I’ll still probably try to stab you in the back with the rogue, LOLsmite you with the priest, or have my pet chew on you like a two dollar chew toy with the hunter! But, back to the matter at hand, where was I? Oh yeah, Lich King…If you can meet me at the gamestop tonight, awesome, ask me for a sticker, card, or magnet! I have some 4thehorde.wordpress.com stickers made up, in black and white, or white and black. In fact, why talk about em, here they are…I’m a fan of the white on black personally…

 

I have a few people that are meeting there for sure:

 Nimrock from the WowCommoner,

Spiffie, from our guild Waraxe

Prosecutor, also from our guild Waraxe

I’m bringing a camera, video and still, as well as a voice recorder, I plan on getting some stuff to put up on the blog ASAP, so check back tomorrow for some updates to the blog on all of the release party fun!

~Uncle Sy

The Role of Enhancement

Posted in Discussion, Shaman, Shaman Guide on November 11, 2008 by Kor

I have a confession to make.  I had never been to the Elitist Jerks website before yesterday.  Well, I went once, was blown away by the sheer amount of content and got scared off.  So I avoided it.  I told myself that I wasn’t doing any serious raiding, so it wouldn’t be killer if I didn’t learn how to perfectly min/max everything.  And sure, I did fine.  My dps was always respectable on both my hunter and my mage.

But things changed yesterday.  I need to get caught up on Shaman issues that I have no idea existed.  While the EJ forums are no less daunting than before, I found a good link on SoE to page 119 of a thread that had a great summary of Enhancement stuff.  From there I found a link to this!  It’s a general guide for Enhance Shamanal, written by Malan of <Serious Casuals> on the Mal’Ganis-US server.  The introduction did such an excellent job that I decided to reproduce part of it here.  Please note that some of it is paraphrased slightly for brevity.

 “An Enhancement Shaman is an integral part of a raid group.  Besides offering substantial personal dps, an Enhancement Shaman brings talented totem buffs beyond those offered by Resto or Elemental Shamanal.  These include Unleashed Rage (an on-crit proc for 10% additional melee AP), Strength of Earth (+STR/+AGI) and Windfury (20% melee haste).

An Enhancement Shaman is not a melee healer.  While Maelstrom Weapon instant cast heals can certainly help top off a group after an AoE or step in to prevent an Emergency, their gear’s focus on melee stats makes them unsuitable healers in the Endgame.  An Enhancement Shaman should be dedicated to DPS, maximizing Unleashed Rage and totem coverage for the raid.

Enhance Shamanal have 6 sources of damage:

(a) Windfury: a weapon imbue that gives the Shaman 20% proc of two instant attacks with a substantial AP bonus.
(b) Lava Lash: an off-hand instant attack (6 sec cooldown) that deals fire damage, does more damage if Flametongue Weapon is used.
(c) Elemental Shocks: shared (6s) cooldown instant elemental damage offering stealth prevention (Flame Shock), snaring (Frost Shock) or interruption (Earth or Wind Shock). 
(d) Fire totems: Pulse, direct or AoE fire damage.
(e) Lightnings: Chain Lightning or Lightning Bolt instant casts triggered by a 5-stack of the Maelstrom Weapon talent.

Enhance Shamanal are highly gear dependent, perhaps more so than any other dps class.  Much of the ‘skill’ required to be effective at the class, manifests in proper gear selection prior to combat; during combat, the amount of ‘skill’ to produce respectable dps consists mainly of staying in contact with the mob, using skills as cooldowns expire, and maintaining totem coverage.  This gives Enhance Shamanal a great deal of latitude while doing damage, since there are a limited number of actions that can be performed while waiting on Stormstrike and Shock cooldowns to be used for purging mobs or removing poison/disease debuffs with no interruption of the dps cycle.”

– The original work of Malan of <Serious Casual> on Mal’Ganis-US.

 

I’ve found the post to be an excellent resource for Enhance Shamanal.  If you’re interested in a nice consolidated resource for all things Enhance, its there.  From what I’ve read so far, it seems to be updated for patch 3.0.3.  The only thing lacking was a discussion of totems.  I’m sure to the people who’ve been playing a Shaman a long time, that may seem like a waste of space since it is obvious which totems to choose.  You’d think that anyways.  But I’m interested to know that if I’m using Flametongue totem, is that more of a dps increase to my spell damage than the Searing Totem is of actual damage?  Don’t know.  If I don’t find out anywhere, I’ll be doing a little testing of my own when I hit level 80.  The new targeting dummies in the cities, which I’ve dubbed Gozz for short (long story) are going to be an excellent way of getting actual numbers from in game mechanics.  And while you won’t be able to take into account every variable, it’s a great ‘all other things being equal’ test.

Anyways, if you’re interested in finding out more about Enhancement or getting into the nitty gritty detail of why people recommend certain things, go read it for yourself.

EDIT:

As a follow up to my last post on totems and as a result of reading further and getting into the comments in the guide, there are two totems that are recommended for Enhance always.  Strength of Earth Totem was buffed to provide strength and agility, getting combined with the old Grace of Air totem, which is now gone.  With Enhancing Totems (15% increased effect) this is an excellent choice for Enhance, always.  Secondly, Windfury Totem now gives 16% melee haste (20% with Improved Windfury Totem), which is great for Enhance as well.  The other two schools I’m a bit less sure of, but I have my suspicions, and they’ll get tested eventually. 

For Water Totems I am generally using Mana Spring, as the more mana I have, the more damage I can do with the Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Shocks and Lightning Bolt.  If I get low on health, I can always use the Maelstrom Weapon proc to get off a heal, and if I have more mana, this isn’t an issue from a longevity perspective.  (None of this takes into account Feral Spirit and Shamanistic Rage of course).  When I group with Bacta for raids, however, he uses a combo of Mana Spring / Mana Tide, so I drop Healing Stream or Poison/Disease cleansing as required.

For Fire totems I am generally using Flametongue Totem when I solo.  Since Searing is uncontrolled and often aggros adds without warning, I don’t like using it at the moment.  Flametongue provides a spell power bonus, which increases spell damage, and with points in Enhancing Totems for the SoE increase, Flametongue also gets the increase. 

Lastly, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about talent specs and such.  This is what I think I’m going with for levelling (10/51/0), switching to this at 80 for raiding (17/54/0).  The 80 build will be revisited later on though.

– Fikkle

May the Horde be with you.

The Art of Toteming

Posted in Discussion, Shaman on November 8, 2008 by Kor

Being a connoisseur of alts, if you will, I’ve come to learn the intracies of a few different classes, and having decided on swapping mains in the expansion, I’ve started trying to get the hang of the intracacies of the Shaman.  Specifically, totems: what, when where and why.  The attack rotations can be easily discerned, but learning which totems to use, at specific points in a fight, in specific situations or locations, and why, is an art.  This is extremely different than the science of blowing stuff up as a Mage, or the intuitiveness of the revamped Hunter/Pet system.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Shaman over the last few days.  Not having had nearly as much play time on the class as I’ve had on some of the others is creating a pretty steep learning curve, especially in pvp.  But the biggest problem has been my UI.

Shaman UI: Proverbial Clown Car

clown-carAs anyone who’s played a Shaman could probably attest, there are a ton of things that need to be on your actions bars.  Shamans, arguably, have one of the biggest problems of having more abilities than there is button space in the normal UI.  Its basically like the ole Clown Car.  And unlike Warriors, Rogues and Druids, Shamans don’t get any extra action bars because they don’t have any forms, stances or stealth ability.  What this means is that in the regular UI, space is at a premium.  This means you need one of a few solutions to solve the problem.

Macros are an easy way to alleviate this problem.  I found a number of excellent Shaman macros over at Strength of Earth, a newer Enhancement blog.  The problem with macros is they may require a shift in play style to something you’re not used to or not comfortable with.  For instance, some of the macros are mouseover macros, something which I’ve avoided like the plague.  I don’t like the mouseover style and so I probably won’t ever use that macro, but others I’m loving (the castsequence totem macros, for instance).

The second solution is to use a UI mod.  Depending on how used to a certain set up you are, this could take a lot of relearning as well.  For me, I’ve become pretty set in my ways as to my action bars.  My food, water, trinkets mounts are on the same spot on all of my alts, bound to all of the same keys.  My healing spells are generally in the same spots, across classes that have heals.  My buffs are generally in the same place.  So I have a system that I use, that I’m confortable with and changing the UI to something new can take a bit of getting used to.

Solution: Do Everythang

I’ve decided to go with a mix of both strategies.  I’ve started writing a few macros for things that I know will be helpful and clear up space on my action bars.  I’ve also activated Bartender 4 for my Shaman and over lunch, set up my action bars.  Because of the number of totems, I’ve added in a seventh action bar to accommodate the extras.  This, coupled with Xperl Unit Frames and Squeenix (mini map mod) have changed my UI to something I’m fairly comfortable with trying out.  Both Xperl and Squeenix I’ve been using for a long time, so I’m not going to get into those, but the Bartender mod has allowed me to do what I never could with the regular UI.  I’ve put every spell, ability, item and consumable that I generally use on a button on my bars.  Here’s a quick look of what the set up looks like (with the Xperl Unit Frames open as well).

wowscrnshot_110708_1311161

The way I set it up was to have 7 action bars stacked one on top of another.  Starting from the bottom, I’ve got all of my offensive attacks or buffs that I use, bound to the 1 through = keys.  There wasn’t too much change here from they way it was before, but these are the abilities that I need to attack stuff, so they are on the easiest buttons to hit.  On the bar above that I’ve got all of my healing spells, resurrection, food and water and a guardian and battle elixir that I use (since I’m an alchemist, I generally have lots of these).  These keys are mapped to the [Shift 1] through [Shift =] keys.  Next row above that is my two most active trinkets, potions, healthstone, shield spells, weapon buff spells and totemic call.  These get mapped to the [F1] through [F12] keys.

After that I have two entire bars dedicated to all of my totems.  The first bar, [Ctrl 1] through [Ctrl =], has my pvp totem macro which is set up to cast oft-used pvp totems in sequence.  Following that are all of my Earth Totems and then all of my Air Totems.  The second bar, [Alt 1] through [Alt =] has my PvE totem macro which sequence the 4 totems I use most frequently, followed by all of my Fire Totems and all of my Water Totems.  Now I realize some totems are extremely situational and who ever uses Sentry Totem (RP’ers?), but at least having them on a button will save me from having to open my spell book and search for them, since, you know, totems are so well organized in there.

Next up I have my shield swap macro, something else I got from SoE, followed by any of the other trinkets that I have in my bags for ease of swapping and use, any extra relic Totems and then some utility spells (Find Herbs, Water Walking, Water Breathing and Far Sight).  These are all mapped to [Shift F1] through [Shift F12].

On the very top bar I have a number of abilities that I used to have bound to specific keys that I didn’t want to have to change, so they got lumped together.  Ghost Wolf [y], Astral Recal [Home], Hearthstone [End], my favorite non-combat pet [J], a follow macro [Shift J], Flying Mount [Shift G] and my epic Riding Mount [G].  After that, I’ve got a number of extra elixirs that I don’t always use but that could come in handy.  I think I left some of my swiftness potions in the bank, so I may have to swap those into there for something else.  The pet bar (yes, Shamans can haz pets!) is on top of that, but its only active when my Spirit Wolves are out.  Their abilities are mapped to [Ctrl F1] through [Ctrl F9].

Lastly, my chat window is in the very bottom left of the screen, with the combat log in the very bottom right.  The bag bar and Interface bar don’t really have any logical place to fit into and since they’re weird sizes and what now, they just got thrown on top of the chat log.  My party frames are to the left hand side of my screen with the raid frames below that.  I’ve also placed my focus frame and focus’ target frame to the right of my action bars.  And the Squeenix map is in the top right corner.  Voila, c’est tous!

I Can Haz Moar Totems?

So the UI changes were critical to getting on with practicing which totems to be using and when.  While I may catch some flak for this, I hadn’t used Grounding Totem at all while leveling, so it didn’t have a place on my action bars.  And I’ve been doing a lot of pvp lately.  It didn’t occur to me to use it since I hadn’t ever used it before.  Until I started reading up on some strategies for pvp.  D’oh!

So now I’ll be getting used to the new set up.  I may go looking for more macros over the next few weeks to make things easier, but for now, this is what I’m going with.  Its obviously going to change as I level to 80 and get extra abilities.  Hex and Lava Burst (?) are going to likely get shoved into the spots where I have my elixirs at the moment.  But at least I’ll have an extra ten levels to start getting used to the new set up before raiding and pvp’ing at level 80.

Eventually, I’d like to write a post talking about the different totems and their uses.  Since 3.0.2 has changed some totems, gotten rid of others and consolidated a few more, the art of toteming has changed a bit.  As it stands right now, I’m not sure I’ve got it down myself yet.  But that’s what is great about this last week before Wrath.  Since I need to familiarize myself with the class, I’ll be doing pvp until Wrath is downloaded on my computer.  Once I feel more comfortable with it all, I’ll try to put out a part 2 to this here monstrositotem of a post for anyone who may be unfamiliar with this as I am.  We’ll see.

 

Fikkle

 And since we had our first frost yesterday, and first snow here today, DON’T EAT THE YELLOW SNOW.  Unless your name rhymes with shyllus.  SO SAY WE ALL.

Enhancement: The New Manbearpig

Posted in Discussion, Shaman, WOTLKEE on November 6, 2008 by Kor

manbearpig1With the changes to certain game mechanics in patch 3.0.2, Enhancement Shaman have become what could be considered one of the truest hybrids in the game.  The changes have emphasised a synergy between melee damage and spell damage that is truly amazing.

Evolving Mechanics: Unifying Hybrid Damage

First off, the changes of some old stats into unified stats, namely spell power, crit, hit and haste, are groundbreakingly incredible.  The change to spell power means that now the one stat will affect both offensive spells and healing spells, which menas that gear with differing numbers affecting the two is a thing of the past.  This also means that no longer will gear be healer specific, since the spell power will also be viable for damage dealers.  While there may still be gear that will be better overall for specific healers, it basically means that more classes will be able to use a wider variety of gear.  While this may create the inevitable loot drama, ultimately it will mean a lot less gear will be wasted as well.

The changes to crit, hit and haste are even more important in my opinion.  Before, melee classes would focus on melee hit ratings while caster classes would focus on spell hit ratings (and crit and haste).  Now, there is a single stat for each that affects spells and melee attacks.  While this is good for pure casting and the pure melee classes, it is even better for classes that use both melee and spells, specifically, Paladins, Shaman and Druids come to mind.  So now, spells that were viable before the patch, are going to be even better.  For Enhance Shaman this applies specifically to Shocks, Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning.

Maelstramifications: The New Enhance-Hotness

The changes that were made to the Enhancement tree have gone even further to make Enhancement even more of a hybrid spec.  While before, shocks were included in dps rotations, lighting spells rarely would be.  The casting times were so long that the loss in dps wasn’t worth the spells.  Now, with the Maelstrom Weapon talent, having an instant cast Chain Lightning or Lightning Bolt spell is completely viable, and the crit that spells now receive from the unified stat will make them do even more damage.  Lava Lash, another deep Enhancement talent is also has a spell damage component.  And with this new talent, many Shaman are now considering using Flametongue Weapon on their offhand weapon for the increased damage component to Lava Lash.  I haven’t looked into the theorycrafting behind it yet, but I plan to shortly.  There is likely going to be a certain point where spell power will increase the damage done to make it more viable than having Windfury Weapon on the offhand.  Must go theorycraftumbobulatification.  Don’t worry, that word could have gone on much longer.  In its current state its only partially-fikklized.

Shifting Paradigms: Hybrid Style

Hybrid can mean a lot of things in WoW.  It can mean a class that can fill two differing roles, which would include Warriors and Priests.  It can mean a class that can fill two or more of the three primary roles in the game (tanking, healing and dps), which would include Druids, Paladins, Shaman, Warriors and Priests.  In the concept that I’m looking at it from, I’m considering a hybrid a spec in a class that uses both melee and spells as their main sources of damage output.  This definition, which is admittedly, much more limited in scope, restricts the defination mainly to Shaman and Paladins.  A more accurate description would be a hybrid damage spec.  Ret Paladins, generally use hard hitting two handed weapons and their seals and judgement abilities. Enhance Shaman use hard hitting, dual wielded, one-hand weapons and their shocks and lightening spells. This concept isn’t a revolutionary change from the original ideas behind these two specs, since both have always used spells and melee damage to dish it out.  It’s more of an evolutionary change where the original concepts have been elaborated on and expanded, buffed by the new unified stats and broadened with new spells and abilities that allow for more variety and tons more fun.  I’ve been having so much fun playing the Shaman with the changes.  Even though he’s terribly geared at the moment, the changes have given so much more depth to his spec that its probably the most fun I’ve had with any class or spec in the game.  And as any regular reader knows, I can haz alts.

The Future is Bright: 70 to 80

Getting the Shaman to 80 is my first priority when Wrath hits.  While he may be harder to level than some of my other toons that have had plenty of time at 70 to amass the epics, the reset will bring upgrades and its not like I have any gear that will last until level 80 anyways.   As much fun as I’m having right now, I’m looking forward to getting to play the spec at level 80.  The 10 extra talent poitns and additional spells is going to make it even more interesting to play than it already is.  While I haven’t truly experienced many of the problems that were discussed to no end on the forums through BC and even before, I’m looking at the future for Enhancement Shaman and it looks bright.  Each day the excitement builds as Wrath is drawing ever closer and I can’t wait to get out there and get the new Manbearpig to Northrend.

 

– Fikkle

May the Horde be with you

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